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Trip report: December 2016

East River...

Paddling in Big Cypress Preserve, near Everglades

East River is located in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, west of Everglades National Park. The launch is off US41 (Tamiami Trail) almost exactly 5 miles west of the SR29 intersection - look for a small roadside sign. The river flows through small lakes and narrow mangrove tunnels before gradually widening into an open tidal river into Fakahatchee Bay. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Paddle Everglades, East River, kayak, canoe, Florida

Distance: Upper section 2-3.5 miles round-trip; 5.5 miles one-way to Fakahatchee Bay
Location: Collier County (Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch point: 5 miles west of Everglades City off US41 (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Everglades  National Park, Naples, Marco Island, Miccosukee Indian Reservation

East River... Comments and Photos

Easy sand launch, port-a-potty and picnic table. This is a popular paddling destination for local outfitters. A typical trip is to cross the first lake, paddle through two or three mangrove tunnels and lakes, and return - a 2 hour to 3.5 hour tour, depending on one's preference. If bringing your own boat, be aware that the launch area is tight and parking is limited. We observed it was less busy later in the day.

Paddling on East River - upper section

From the launch, we paddled through small lakes and tunnels toward Big Lake. There are no trail markers and mangrove can hide a tunnel entrance, so it is good to know about where on a lake to look. An aerial map and GPS are recommended.

With a very slight current and shelter from the wind, the round trip is an easy paddle, with more technical spots through the narrow mangrove tunnels - be prepared to break down your paddle. The upper portion of the river enjoys a relatively consistent flow of freshwater from the Fakahatchee Strand above US41, so alligators are plentiful here, much to the enjoyment of local outfitters and clients. An interesting variety of birds and turtles can also be seen.

Launch to second tunnel

Second and third tunnels

More Information and Resources

Paddling on East River - a Full-day Trip:

A full-day trip is to paddle all the way to Fakahatchee Bay, about 5.5 miles one way. As the river widens, tide and wind become major factors. Campsites are available for those who want to continue on to the 10,000 Islands Trail. Permit required for overnights. From the mouth of the East River, it is about 7 miles to Everglades City. Needless to say, glades trips of this nature require serious preparation and planning, best for experienced paddlers.

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